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david kilcullen land of the fearful

Posted on 10. Jan, 2021 by in Random Stuff

Trump’s alleged Russia ties, praise for strongmen, positive statements about Assad until days before the attack, and expressed disdain for world opinion set the bar so low that he got credit just for upholding an international norm against chemical weapons, and showing he was prepared to go up against Moscow. When the going gets tough, the mild get going. Any departure from the Taliban’s barbaric version of Islam, such as dancing or shaving or educating girls, could earn floggings, imprisonment or even death. The autocrats are firmly back in the saddle from anarchic Libya and repressed Egypt to Gulf monarchs and Iranian theocrats. Dr. David Kilcullen, well known to readers of this page (see especially here), was the guest in the DefendAmerica.mil Blogger's Roundtable this morning. And the reality Within days, rebel fighters pushed to within 5km of the Hama suburbs, threatening the regime’s control of a critical city that anchors its northern flank and provides access to Aleppo. In the west, a separate rural militia movement had already coalesced around “sovereign citizen” groups that rejected federal authority. An abiding interest in the Middle East was reflected in several posts about Israel and Palestine, including republishing Rocky Road to Heavens Gate, a tale of Jerusalem’s famous Damascus Gate, and Castles Made of Sand, looking at the property boom taking place in the West Bank. The View From a Balcony in Jerusalem reviews journalist John Lyons’ memoir of his posting in divided Jerusalem. The recent announcement that US and Taliban negotiators had agreed a framework for peace talks was greeted as a breakthrough in the 18-year war. For a President who spoke blithely on the campaign trail about Japan and South Korea acquiring their own nuclear weapons to deal with Pyongyang, this represents a big step forward. This isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. An offshore-balancing strategy offers a way to do this while still acting tough and reserving the right to intervene unilaterally (another key Trump theme). The May Government’s hamfistedness is such that at Year End, many pundits are saying that the public have forgotten the incompetence of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and predict that against all odds, his missus could soon be measuring up for curtains in Number Ten. He is a professor at Arizona State University and at University of New South Wales, Canberra. Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion, Red lines and red herrings and Syria’s enduring torment, The Ricochet of Trump’s Counterrevolution, A Brief History of the Rise and Fall of the West, Freedom at Midnight (1) – the birth of India and Pakistan, Freedom at Midnight (2) – the legacy of partition, The Bard in the Badlands – Hell is empty and the devils are here, Why we’ve never stopped loving the Beatles, The Shock of the Old – the Glory Days of Prog Rock, A Middle East Miscellany قصص الشرق الأوسط, A Short History Of The Rise And Fall Of The West, Better read than dead – books and reading, Down Under – Australian history and politics, Foggy ruins of time – from history’s pages, Losing Earth – Tarkeeth and other matters environmental, My country, ’tis of thee – on matters American, Land of the fearful – home of the heavily armed, Race riots spread after death of unarmed black man. Kilcullen, David. Thanks be to God they are all now off on their summer hols! Indeed, it would be intelligence malpractice if they were not. The growing parallels with … Founder and … A former soldier and diplomat, he served as a senior advisor to both General David H. Petraeus and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sure, we all know that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel – but we are not supposed to shout it out loud in case it unleashed all manner of mayhem on the easily irritated Muslim street. Offshore balancing does not preclude periodic interventions to restore a favourable balance of power in a given region, but it does tend to rule out long-term occupation or decisive commitments of the post-9/11 kind. Our last fatality occurred in July 2014, while our last combat casualty was in June 2013. Until a week ago, Trump’s Syria policy was to downplay any call for regime change, acquiesce in the permanence of Assad’s regime and collaborate with Putin against Islamic State. Meanwhile, in our own rustic backyard, we are still “going up against chaos”, to quote Canadian songster Bruce Cockburn. And same-sex couples can marry in the eyes of God and the state from January 9th 2018. Realising a new approach to Beijing following the Integrated Review will require policymakers to acknowledge the significant historical baggage that comes with policy design in this area. Knocking out Khan Sheikhoun from the air would immediately collapse the rebel salient, letting the regime stabilise the front line. David Kilcullen, The Australian, 30th May 2020. Strategist David Kilcullen carries this argument to its next logical step. Other recent signs include statements by Trump to the effect that he seeks to withdraw from Syria while sponsoring an Arab coalition to prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State. Although it’s ship of state is taking in water, Saudi Arabia will continue its quixotic and perverse adventures in the Gulf and the Levant. As Stathis Kalyvas demonstrated a decade ago in The Logic of Violence in Civil War, the worst atrocities are driven not by hate but by fear. But the twin issues around which those talks will be framed — a withdrawal pledge by Washington in return for a Taliban promise to never again let Afghanistan ­become a threat to any other country — are far from new. Make a donation. An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier. His administration also voted for a UN resolution lifting sanctions on Iran before congress had properly begun its review of the agreement. In short, at the current level of financial and human cost, there is no strictly military (as distinct from political or humanitarian) reason why the US could not simply continue the war indefinitely. In the post-Cold War era of liberal and neo-conservative interventionism, US leaders often con­flated the two, as if preventing a hostile power from dominating a region necessarily implied dominating it themselves. His prompt response also contrasted with president Barack Obama’s failure to enforce his own “red line” after the vastly more lethal Ghouta attack of September 2013, which killed 1500 and poisoned thousands (the Khan Sheikhoun attack killed 74). Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. Already confronted with the Russian ascendency in the east, and the prospects of the Ukrainian – Donetsk conflict firing up in the near future, the EU’s next big challenge is likely to be reacquainting itself with its original raisin d’etre – the European Project that sought to put an end to a century of European wars – and addressing the potential expulsion of parvenu, opportunistic member states who fail to uphold the union’s democratic values. David Kilcullen, The Australian, 16th February 2019. The group’s leader, until recently known by his nom de guerre “Norman Spear”, was unmasked in January as Rinaldo Nazzaro, a New Jersey native based in St Peters­burg, Russia, from where he directed cells in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. After the International Security Assistance Force departed at the end of 2014, the Taliban immediately began ramping up its activity, and within a year it was gaining ground, taking the fight to Afghan cities, and projecting force into Afghanistan from its haven in Pakistan. But, offshore balancing requires a cool nerves, a steady hand and deft footwork. US bases in Saudi Arabia, in particular, created intense grievances that led in part to the 9/11 attacks. The occupation prompted a six-week siege by federal and state agencies in January-February 2016. On the seventieth anniversary of the birth of India and Pakistan, we looked at this momentous first retreat from Empire with three posts: Freedom at Midnight (1) – the birth of India and Pakistan, Freedom at Midnight (2) – the legacy of partition, and Weighing the White Man’s Burden. Rewatching the excellent sci-fi drama Westworld – one of the televisual gems of 2017 –  we were excited to discover how the plays of William Shakespeare were treasured in the Wild West. Decisive action, combining the measured use of force with a strong diplomatic push, could have forced Assad — given the dire pressure he was under — into genuine peace talks. Then after a resurgence in 2005-06, it suffered severe setbacks in the south and east of the country and its fighters were forced to bide their time as they rebuilt, recruited and rearmed in Pakistan, and stealthily recaptured territory in remote parts of Afghanistan. All this only accentuates Australians’ disenchantment with their representatives, warps their perception of the value and values of “democracy”, and drives the frustrated, disgruntled, fearful and alienated towards the political extremes – and particularly the Right where ambitious but frustrated once, present and future Tory politicians aspire to greatness as big fishes in little ponds of omniphobia. The town’s importance was underlined by the fact that the pilot who allegedly carried out the sarin attack was Major General Mohammed Hazzouri, a Syrian air force officer commanding the 50th Air Brigade at Shayrat, and whose family name suggests he’s related to Mohammed Abdullah al-Hazzouri, governor of Hama, who was appointed by Assad in November 2016. There is no doubt that the US President’s decision reflected animus toward his predecessor’s signature achievement in foreign policy. The most important is proxy conflict, which can spiral out of control when more than one external power backs local actors, drawing them into confrontation. Obviously, when you launch a gas attack using a fighter jet flown by a two-star general from the same prominent family as the provincial governor, you’re telegraphing that this is a pretty serious priority. He studied counterinsurgency as a cadet at Royal Military College in Duntroon, the Australian Army's officer training establishment. He was executed a few months ­before 9/11. Perhaps the best analogy is ­Colombia, which saw 10 years of amorphous conflict from 1948 to 1958, a decade known as La Violencia. Likewise, in Southeast Asia, enhanced support for Vietnam and The Philippines may combine with existing US relationships with Australia, India and Japan to balance China. Meanwhile, Africa will continue to bleed, with ongoing wars across the Sahel, from West and Central Africa through to South Sudan,  ethnic tensions in the fragile nations of the Rift Valley, and further unrest in newly ‘liberated’ Zimbabwe as its people realize that the military coup is yet another case what The Who called “meet the old boss, same as the new boss”. Kilcullen describes the "pillars" of a stable society, while Eizenstat addresses the "gaps" that form cracks in societal stability. Winning the war is, of course, a real objective for coalition capitals as it is for Washington — but it’s a secondary one. Keeping such zealots at bay, for as long as they try to impose their beliefs by force, is an incalculable benefit to the two-thirds of Afghans (about 24 million people) who live in government-controlled areas. As a result, Taliban leaders wisely decided their best course was to withhold most of their combat troops in Pakistan, do enough to stay in the public eye in Afghanistan, and wait for withdrawal, which duly took place right on schedule. Taking a strategy like offshore balancing, however successful it might prove to be in the Middle East, and blindly applying it on the Korean peninsula, to Russia or China  where conditions are dramatically different, would be full of risk. US President Donald Trump’s missile strike against Syria’s Shayrat air base last week, responding to the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northern Idlib province, garnered cautious praise across the political spectrum. I mentioned that two key assumptions have underpinned the enduring international presence, namely the fear of a Taliban takeover if we withdraw, leaving a weak Afghan government behind, and the expectation that such a takeover would result in terrorist attacks from Afghanistan. On the international and the domestic front, it appeared as if we were condemned to an infernal and exasperating ‘Groundhog Day’. Conservative Christian politicians imposed upon us an expensive, unnecessary and bitterly divisive plebiscite on same-sex marriage which took forever. A body of opinion in the US intelligence community (and also, ironically, within Israeli intelligence) holds that the threat from Iran has been overstated, Iran’s ability to dominate the so-called “land bridge” from Afghanistan to the Golan Heights is overblown, and no regime in Tehran would be suicidal enough to consider a nuclear strike on Israel, Saudi Arabia or any of its other regional rivals. Then Barack Oba­ma, in announcing his surge in December 2009, also (very helpfully for the Taliban) announced its end date, later extended by NATO but still resulting in a rigid timetable for withdrawal. But again, the key question is why Assad’s forces felt the need to use the nerve agent in the first place. And the act Against this background, last week’s strike seems almost laughably symbolic: 60-odd Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched from two US navy ships in the Mediterranean, with allied aircraft kept away from Syrian air defences, and the Russians (and thus, presumably, their Syrian proteges) given plenty of warning to get out of the way. So, with a US presidential election next year and its guerrillas gaining ground, Taliban negotiators know that this is the best offer they are likely to get, while by January 2021 there could be a very different occupant in the White House and Washington’s Afghanistan “forever war” project could be back on. But while he seems entirely serious about settling (as he calls it) with the Taliban, his attitude is sharply at odds with that of the US foreign policy establishment, the Defense Department (where secretary James Mattis resigned in protest over the Afghan and Syrian withdrawals), the Democratic opposition, and even his own Republican Party in congress, which passed a bipartisan resolution calling on him to maintain forces in Afghanistan and Syria. David Kilcullen is the award-winning author of Accidental Guerrilla (2009) and Counterinsurgency (2010) and now Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla (2013). Opportunities to apply it include the Korean peninsula, where Trump seems willing to agree to partial US withdrawal and a permanent peace treaty in return for North Korean denuclearisation and enhanced sponsorship of Japan and South Korea to balance China. Others asked what were the long term goals, and what was the exit strategy. This was bad policy: not just on moral or political grounds (Assad has killed 10 times as many Syrians as Islamic State, and most US partners both inside Syria and throughout the region see removing Assad and ending the war as the top priority bar none) but also in practical military terms. New national security adviser John Bolton is from the neo-conservative tradition that led directly to the post-9/11 wars of occupation and to the invasion of Iraq, and he will have to modify his views to be able to support this kind of strategy. When you lose the constructive middle, extremists on all sides are empowered” (from 51 Days at Waco, Paul Hemphill September 2003 – see below ). This goal, too, was achieved as soon as coalition forces entered Afghanistan: our hypothetical cynic might observe that we gain “alliance points” simply by being there and doing a decent job. Spencer Ackerman, in yesterday’s Washington Independent, claims I told him the Iraq war was “f*cking stupid”. There were already many militias of varying political complexions across America — one pro-militia website lists 361 groups across all 50 states. A war which has caused over 31,000 civilian deaths due to war-related violence and 29,900 wounded (over 111,000 Afghans, including civilians, soldiers and militants, are estimated to have been killed) has staggered to a bloody stalemate. As of mid-April, apart from tiny regime enclaves at Fua and Kefraya, Idlib is almost totally controlled by a jihadist coalition led by al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, still widely known by its former name, the Nusra Front. Class inequities, which track closely with racial disparities here, have prompted socialist groups — notably Antifa but also traditionally nonviolent Trotskyist and anarchist networks — to arm themselves for an incipient revolutionary moment. Containing the Taliban as a remote, rural threat, grave enough to stop the international community abandoning Afghanistan yet able to be gradually overcome as a long-term national project (with international money and help) would be ideal. IS-K has been very active since its first appearance in September 2015, launching a series of horrendously violent bombings and massacres, and the Taliban is an arch-enemy of the group. Analysts warned this year that extremism poses as much risk today as it did in 1995. Professor Kilcullen said we might may be dealing with adversaries who have a much broader definition of war than we do. In That Howling Infinite is now on FaceBook, as it its associate page HuldreFolk. As the indestructible but fictitious Agent Jack Bauer, said between 11 and 11.14 am in the turn of the millennium series 24: “If you bring in the CTU (Counter terrorism Unit), they could screw up and there’d be another Waco”. Kilcullen grew up on Sydney's north shore, the son of academics. More fundamentally, the goal of destroying Islamic State may not actually be the higher strategic priority, at least not in Syria. As part of this strategy, US ­forces may launch periodic operations (missile and drone strikes, air raids or special forces operations) to preserve their preferred balance but would avoid protracted commitments, and troop numbers in Iraq and Syria would be drawn down. Ancient statues were dynamited as pagan idols. Britain continues to lumber towards the Brexit cliff, its unfortunate and ill-starred prime minister marked down as “dead girl walking”. Some call the urban guerrilla aspect of the Boogaloo “Minecrafting”: Twitter threads seeming to discuss the game may actually refer to the coming conflict — context is everything. Kilcullen is a three piece rock band from New York City. There are, he says, “already hundreds militias of varying political complexions across the country. In “contested areas” — where the territories of left and right-wing militants overlap — we can expect violence irrespective of the outcome. This time, things went the other way. The rebels opposing Assad today are not the largely secular forces of 2013 but rather are dominated by al-Qa’ida, while Russia has indicated it plans to further improve Syria’s air defences and has vetoed efforts in the UN for further talks on a Syrian peace deal. Likewise, independent-minded UN ambassador Nikki Haley will need to collaborate more closely with the State Department and the White House than she has done to date. In the following article, He writes of how the rise of militias and armed protesters across the US is sometimes seen as a fringe right-wing issue, but argues that it is much broader. In the wake of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster movie, Deconstructing Dunkirk looked at the myths surrounding the famous evacuation. His piece is a cracker – a must-read for political junkies and all who are fascinated and frightened by the absurdities of recent US politics. Kilcullen (Irish: Cill Chuilinn), formally Kilcullen Bridge, is a small town on the River Liffey in County Kildare, Ireland.Its population of 3,473 (2011 Census makes it the 12th largest settlement in County Kildare and the fastest growing in the county, having doubled in population from 1,483 in the census of 2002. Tahrir al-Sham gathered the most capable rebel groups in Syria into a single coalition under al-Qa’ida’s leadership, pointed them directly at the regime’s weakest point and achieved immediate success. Young people, from east and west Africa flee poverty, unemployment, and civil war, to wind up in Calais or in pop-up slave markets in free but failed Libya. While many in Washington see Chinese influence in Afghanistan as a threat, in fact a greater Chinese role in the region is probably inevitable in the long term and is likely to be quite constructive. If violence does spread, it will not be a re-run of the American Civil War. And below that is a recent piece by David Kilcullen, Australian author, strategist and counterinsurgency expert. According to a biographical note in one of his papers, Kilcullen was an advisor with Indonesian forces from 1994 to 1995 and 'was operations officer of the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville during the final stages … This brings us back to our original question: what’s different now? David Kilcullen is the author of the highly acclaimed The Accidental Guerrilla and Counterinsurgency. When in the wake of 9/11 the US and it’s allies invaded Afghanistan, critics and cynics invoked the long arm of history to declare that the venture was a forlorn hope. Maritime powers (including Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the US for much of its history until 1945) historically used offshore balancing to counter land-based rivals while lowering their own costs and avoiding ­decisive commitment. Last month’s coalition strike on Syria sent a similar message in that it avoided targeting the Assad regime’s leadership or Russian and Iranian assets in Syria. As recently as April 5, the day after the Khan Sheikhoun attack, Tillerson was asserting that Assad was here to stay. Hate follows and rationalizes fear, not the other way around. Click on the picture below to read the New York Times’ commentary on the negotiations. Saudi leaders also have expressed a willingness to participate in strikes within Syria (making Saudi Arabia a de facto coalition partner with Israel, a tricky political position for Saudi leaders). If the Shayrat strike is to be more than the latest useless symbolic gesture, it needs to be followed by a fundamental change in strategy. Washington would operate with allied support where possible, but strike unilaterally if needed. Before America toppled the Taliban regime, Afghanistan was a violent theocratic despotism. In a 21st century replay of The Great Game, neighbours India, Iran, and Pakistan, and regional powers China and Russia would be tempted take advantage of the vacuum for their own strategic and economic ends, but to would all struggle to fill it. In the same region, a US exit from Syria (a key element of a balancing approach) would remove deterrents on Turkey’s ability to attack Kurdish groups, heightening conflict risk between Ankara and the Kurds. Predicatively, such outbursts of outage, where peaceful protests are often accompanied by mayhem and wanton destruction, are a magnet for opportunists of all persuasions. But our particular favourite is Deep in the Heart of Texas, a review of an article in The New Yorker by Lawrence Wright. Both far-right and far-left armed groups were at Charlottesville, with ­cadres of gun-carrying militants guarding protesters on both sides and a third-party “constitutionalist” militia, the Oath Keepers — composed mainly of military and law-enforcement veterans — standing by as self-appointed umpires. What is antifa and Why does Donald Trump want to blame if for the violence in the US? It’s worth remembering that almost three million Americans served in Iraq and Afghanistan, coming home familiar with urban and rural guerrilla warfare to a country where 41 per cent of people own a gun or live with someone who does. Second to its health impact, the economic crisis wrought by ­government-imposed lockdowns has grabbed the most attention: 40 million Americans were forced on to the dole in the past 10 weeks. Variants — coined to avoid Twitter censors — include “The Big Igloo” or “The Big Luau”, the last explaining why Hawaiian shirts are popular among militias. And fear of the coronavirus, alongside the demonstrable inability of government to keep people safe, is driving today’s growth in armed militancy. The new approach may signal the re-emergence of Washington’s former strategy of working through regional coalitions to counter rivals in the ­Middle East, thereby enabling US military disengagement from the post-9/11 wars. From race-relations to healthcare to tax reform to The Middle East, South Asia and North Korea, we view his bizarro administration with a mix of amusement and trepidation. Conflict resolution expert and mediator Lawrence Susskind encapsulated it thus: when two sides are locked into an apparently intractable conflict, “you must engage the constructive middle. More importantly, the move of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier battle group toward Korean waters to deter further missile launches, and the deployment of US air defence systems and special operators in South Korea, showed this was not just talk. There could be a surge in fighting, as warlords once again reassert their influence and as ISIS and al Qaeda take advantage of the situation. The deadly “Unite the Right” rally in the normally sleepy university town of Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 brought the danger home to many Americans, but the trend was longstanding. Hopefully, as with many of Trump’s isolationist initiatives, like climate change, trade, and Iran, less immoderate nations will take no notice and carry on regardless. Last November, we welcomed Donald Trump to the White House with bated breath and gritted teeth, and his first year as POTUS did not disappoint. Fallen off a cliff question is Why: in that Howling Infinite is now on FaceBook as... 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